A good day fishing means that I need to be prepared for a majority of situations and have the right gear. That probably means that I need some snacks, a light jacket, some form of lunch, multiple waters, and my flies/leaders/tippet/misc ect. Finding the right pack for this type of job has been difficult for me to say the least.
A majority of the time a pack was either too cumbersome or bursting at the seams to fish with for the day. This meant that a majority of the time I found myself hiking back to my car at some point during the day to retrieve something that I had to leave behind.
This all changed when I was introduced to the Orvis Guide Sling Pack. This pack allows me to spend a whole day fishing either solo or playing Sherpa for friends without feeling weighed down. This pack has plenty of room. The sweetest thing about this pack is the simplicity and layout of the pack. The pack has three areas of storage. The largest zippered pocket can easily hold plenty of gear/provisions for the day.
On any given day you can find my pack filled with 4-5 boxes chalked full of flies ranging from a large C&F design streamer box to others containing various nymphs and dry fly offerings. Couple that with a couple, some snacks & lunch and 95 % of the time I am set for the day.
The two other storage areas on this pack are much smaller but are perfect for the smaller essentials like Leaders, Indicators, Split Shot and Dry Shake just to name a few. Of course this pack can be configured to suit the needs of any angler and the configuration of my pack will vary from outing to outing based on where and what species I may be targeting that particular day.
The great part of the pack is that gear access is a piece of cake. Simply undo the removable third strap around the chest and swing the main strap around your chest and all your gear is at your fingertips. Using the simple two straps and provided tippet holder keeps your entire tippet arsenal neat and tidy out of the way. The cherry on top is the main torso strap features a magnetic hemo holster and it also has many places for other accessories and tools.
The minimalist fisherman will not like this pack and it doesn’t have much in terms of organization. Just three simple pockets for all the gear needed for a day. Also some anglers may find a problem with the fact that this pack can only be worn over the right shoulder. Some may argue that the main strap may hinder the casting stroke. Being a left handed caster I cannot comment on whether or not this argument has validity.
With that being said, I feel this pack is the right tool for angler in any situation. To covering ground looking Pike & Musky to wading for trout this pack truly does it all! Don’t take my word for it though. Check it out by clicking HERE.
Each year I have the opportunity to spend several days chasing Coho with my parents in the Strait of Juan de Fuca adjacent to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. While the primary purpose of this annual trip is to keep salmon on my grill the rest of the year, a few years ago we began to pursue another species as well. It is a well known fact that real men arise at the crack of ten, sometimes the Coho are only feeding closer to dawn. When this happens you had better be up and underway when running lights are required. Pre-dawn marina departures of vessels of all shapes and sizes contributes to the charm of small fishing towns and Sekiu is no exception. If the bite is early and the typical limit on Coho is two fish per angler per day, you may very well find yourself back at the dock before breakfast. The Olympic Peninsula is full of things to do once the salmon are caught, filleted out, vacuum sealed, and frozen. One could venture out to Cape Flattery, the most Northwest point in the continental United States. Visit the crystal blue water of Lake Crescent, or just hike around in one of the most beautiful places on earth. Once these things are done, as most anglers are apt to do, it usually returns to some kind of fishing.
Near Neah Bay there are hours of entertainment to be had catching strong fighting and great tasting fish. Using an ultralight spinning rod and a small plastic tail jig a person can burn an entire day catching Black Sea Bass near the kelp beds. These fish typically range from 2-4 pounds, put up a great fight, and are simply a blast to catch. The catch limit is pretty high (check the regulations if you go) and they taste great. We would position the boat near the kelp bed and allow the boat to drift with the wind and/or tide along side of the bed casting into the channels between the branches of the kelp. These fish tend to school so when you catch one, there are sure to be more. Anyone that has spent a couple of hours filleting out a mess of crappie knows that it takes about the same amount of time to clean a small fish as it does a larger fish so it is definitely worthwhile to put the smaller fish back to grow up a bit and keep the larger fish. However, if you want to take it to the next level, you can keep a few smaller bass to be used as live bait for Ling Cod, a bottom dwelling beast from another age. Ling is a great eating fish and they fight really hard as well.
One year as I was packing for this trip, it occurred to me how much fun it might be to catch black bass on a fly rod. My four piece five weight was summarily tossed into my bag along with a couple of Clouser minnows. When we arrived at the kelp beds I went forward to fish off the bow since fly casting from the rear of a Grady White would preclude anyone else being able to fish. Being on the bow, I was higher than I was in the stern and could clearly see deeper into the water. This also allowed me to more accurately place my fly between the branches of the kelp and see its descent into the darkness below. I was using a sinking line to get the relatively weightless fly into the fishes realm. No sooner had the fly dropped below the first kelp petals than a strong two pound bass darted from the cover of the kelp and took the fly with an aggressiveness that shocked me. I set the hook and the fight was on. Since I am unaware of a method to quantify laughter, suffice it to say that I laughed a lot while catching these fish.
After a good fight the fish tired and I was able to bring it closer to the boat. The smaller fish I was able to hoist from the water using the line, but the bigger fish presented a problem. Since I was balancing on the bow of the boat and the net was at the stern, I had to lead the larger fish along side of the boat to be netted by Captain Jeff. I soon found that the deeper my fly went, the bigger the fish that ate it. Several times while the fly was sinking, a smaller bass would dart out from the kelp and follow the fly only to be chased off by a much larger fish from the depths below. It is a good day when fish are literally fighting over your fly. This type of fishing allows for one of the things that makes fly fishing so great, the ability to see the fish take your fly. Allowing this revelation to sink in, I decided to fish with streamers more often on my home waters.
While all four of us were catching fish, the fly rod was consistently taking the larger fish. Hooking and landing a four pound Black Sea bass on a five weight fly rod makes an impression on one’s soul and brings a smile to my face even years later.
Next up in our “showdown” testing is the Radian by the fine folks over at Scott Fly Rods in Montrose Colorado. This rod was introduced to the public in summer of 2013 and hasn’t stopped receiving hype since. The Radian is the newest member of the Scott fly rod lineup. It is the replacement for the S4 series of rods which are also considered fast action.
Unlike the S4 the Scott Radian has much more feel without losing that crisp fast action performance. Like a majority of fast action rods on the market today you will initially notice that this rod is extremely lightweight. The workmanship on this rod is the icing on the cake. The components like the reel seat and small touches like hand written inscriptions make this rod easy on the eye.
Just like the first rod in our test we paired the Radian with the Orvis Encounter Series fly reel and a 5 weight Rio Gold fly line.
JC: Scott markets this rod under the slogan “Fast Meets Feel”, with that being said I think that slogan is a perfect description of this rod in the range of 10 to 30 feet. Casting light tippets with the smallest of dries to those wary fish can be done at ease with the Radian. The rod loaded up nice and easy and allowed for quiet soft delivery and presentation. The rod was also extremely accurate within 30 feet but with plenty of power in reserve for longer casts.
Casting this rod at 50 feet was also quite nice and enjoyable. This rod unlike the Sage Method we tested earlier had a much deeper loading point translated into much better feel and accuracy in my opinion. The crisp fast action was still apparent when laying out longer casts especially when the wind picked up a little bit.
At 70 feet this rod still performed quite well even though my casting stroke had to be opened up to allow the rod to carry that much line. This rod struggled when trying to pick up a lot of line to lay it back down with one back cast in my opinion. I could see this rod struggling at this distance with heavily weighted flies. With that being said I don’t think this rod is designed to toss heavy flies at great distances like some fast action rods out on the market. Delivering dry flies would not be a problem at all.
Overall if I had to describe the Radian in a few words I would say well balanced. With the quicker fast action and the soft tip the rod has a lot of feel without sacrificing power. This rod has a lot of potential as a western trout rod especially in the state of Utah since our waters are on the smaller side on the grand scheme of things. This rod is serviceable in quite a variety of situations from heavier nymph rigs to tossing dries the Radian is definitely worth a look as a “do it all” 5wt trout rod. Backed up by a lifetime warranty from Scott this rod is sure to be staple in the quiver for a long time to come.
Morgan: Going into this rod review, I knew I liked the Radian already. I fished this rod on the Green River during some very windy conditions and it performed well. I knew I like this rod on its own but how did it stack up against a few other high-end rods?
It stacked up well. This rod can do it all and it feels right at home in any scenario.
You want to fish size 18 Blue Wings to slurping browns? It will do it with presentations so delicate you’ll be hooking up with Hog Johnson in no time. You’re a streamer junkie? It will double haul meat easily. You like fishing nymphs? This rod can handle those Czech rigs and strike indicators the size of tennis balls (please don’t attempt this! Scott has a great warranty but leave the tennis balls for Federer). If I had one gripe with the rod, it would be the reel seat. The dark grey rod with a few orange accents keeps this rod looking classy and modern but I don’t think the red burled box elder fits well with the rod, just my opinion.
On to the casting:
So much fly fishing is done within 30ft and the rod can make those close casts cleanly and smoothly. Feeling this rod load up at short distances was a welcomed feeling and the recovery of the rod is just as smooth. The presentations at 30ft were delicate and soft and this rod has great tippet control in the form of feedback from the softer tip.
At 50 feet, the rod could make accurate casts with little effort. The Radian has enough backbone to pick up 40ft of line and lay your fly back out with minimal false casting. The rod loads up deeper into the mid sections when casting larger flies but and can still make the longer presentations delicately.
70ft casts were doable but your fly options are going to be limited to lighter flies at this distance. I could cast this rod 70ft but it required a lot of double-hauling and false casts to get them there. The performance of the Radian at 70ft is about what I expected from a rod that’s not claiming to be a long haul machine.
This rod will outperform your expectations from a 9ft 5ft trout rod. Many of us have a hard time justifying the high costs of high-end rods but I think this rod is so versatile and the performance is so high, that the price tag is in line with the quality of the rod. It’s safe to say I like this rod a lot.
Well there you have it. As always I hope you have enjoyed the insight into the Scott Radian that Morgan and I have provided. Stay tuned for our thoughts on a gem from Montana the Boron IIIx by RL Winston. You can check out all the rods we have reviewed and much more by visiting us at Fishwest.com
If you don’t know already own a pair of polarized glasses is worth it’s weight in gold when fishing. I would argue a nice pair of sunnies is probably the most important fishing accessory. Since the days of Action Optics the staff over at Smith has been committed to bringing some of the best technical eye wear to the fly fishing industry. Smith glasses are a favorite of the shop staff here at Fishwest. From Jake with his Frontman’s to Richard with the Backdrops they can be seen time and time again. If you haven’t had a chance to checkout the offerings from Smith Optics I would urge you to do so.
Without further adieu, check out this awesome video put together by Smith highlighting the excellent Florida Keys fisheries.
We have been getting a few requests to give our opinions towards some of the more talked about rods. Last Saturday turned out to be quite the nice day at the shop so we decided to string up a few 9ft 5 weights and put them to the “test”. Morgan and I decided to test the following rods: The Scott Radian, The Sage One & Method as well as the Winston Boron IIIx.
In order to maintain all fairness and accuracy within the test itself we utilized the same reel and line setups on each one of the rods. All the rods in question were outfitted with the Orvis Encounter series fly reel and the Rio Gold fly line.
To gain a complete feel for each of the rods targets were placed at intervals of 30, 50, and 70 feet respectively to simulate a variety of fishing situations out on the hunt for trout in the Rocky Mtn west. Please know that Morgan and I are basing this article solely on our opinions of the rod performance. No consideration was taken on objective factors such as looks, warranty, or price ect.
The Sage Method kicked things off for us:
This rod is newest member of the Sage family of fly rods. This rod falls into the “Super Fast” category of Sage Rods. This category started off with the introduction of the TCR series which was later replaced by the TCX line of rods.
At first glance you will notice two things about this rod. It is extremely lightweight and quite stiff. The stiff feel is to be expected with the “super fast” action profile of this rod.
JC: At 30 feet I feel that this rod struggled mightily. Paired with this line, this rod had zero feel at thirty feet and made the rod hard to cast because it would not load properly. Also presentation was compromised at 30 feet due to the stiffness of the rod, the casts tended to lie down a little bit on the harsher side.
Within the 50 foot range this rod began to excel and casting was a breeze. The overall presentation of the fly landed quite softly which was nice. The accuracy on this rod was also exceptional at this distance and beyond.
This rod could easily touch the 70+ foot mark with accuracy and distance with no questions asked. The rod still had plenty of power to spare. Paired with the right line, possibly a 6wt GPX or Rio Grand this rod could easily cast 100 feet and more
Overall this rod despite its shortcomings has some practical advantages in my opinion. If this rod was overloaded with a 6wt fly line it would perform much better. This rod would excel being used in a variety of situations (big nymph rigs, articulated streamers, large dries). The stiff action of this rod would stand up extremely well to the windiest of conditions.
Morgan: Although I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of this rod, it still seems like this is a rod for more experienced casters or those with a specific purpose in mind for this rod (salt, streamers, or heavy nymph rigs).
I personally don’t enjoy faster action fly rods for throwing dry flies, in most cases they are lacking in presentation. Even though this rod lacks in presentation it thrives throwing long casts, streamers, and big nymph rigs.
At 30 ft, this rod is a broomstick, plain and simple. There was almost no chance of feeling the rod load at such a short distance. With that being said, it still made the cast. Albeit, not the lightest presentation out of the bunch but definitely still fishable. Like JC had mentioned, I too would have liked this rod even more with an over-weighted line such as the Rio Grand, Scientific Anglers GPX or Airflo’s Super Dri Exceed. I have even heard of guys over-lining this rod by two line weights.
Casting this rod at 50ft was a breeze. This is where this rod really started to shine. We start to get a feel for when/where this rod loads up in the forward and back casts at 50ft. My casts were cleaner and had a much lighter presentation at this distance. It easily picks up 40 or 50ft of line and set’s you up to lay it right back down without more than a couple false casts to clean up your cast or change directions.
My casting abilities became very apparent when I started making 70ft attempts but this rod, compared to others, did help make up for my inexperience at longer distances. These long distance casts seemed, to me, to be what this rod was made for. Being able to pick up 40 or 50ft of line, make a couple false casts and shoot the line out to 70ft distances was a breeze. Although the line we’re using is a typical trout taper, the line shot very well and could have only shot better with a line with a heavier head.
This rod is not an all around Rocky Mountain trout rod in my opinion. This is a great rod for heavy flies and long casts, but can still make due throwing dries in a one rod situation. The Method would be great on our larger western rivers or on the salt.
We hope that you have enjoyed the first installment in our four part series where Morgan and I review various 5 weight rods. Next up is the highly anticipated Radian from Scott Fly Rods. Stay tuned, for in depth information on the Sage Method and more, visit the place for All Things Fly Fishing Fishwest.com
People constantly come into the shop and ask us for instructions on how to attach braided loops, well the fine folks over at Rio have decided to make this sweet little video with instructions on how to do just that. Welded and braided loops are becoming an industry standard due to the ease of use associated with them. From Spey to Stillwater and everything in between these little Braided Loops have a use in just about every form of fly fishing.
The Headwaters ½ day pack quickly became a shop favorite when it was released in 2012 and believe they have struck a home run with the 2014 model. The original was nice for short day trips, light and sleek, had a good amount of room for boxes, a light rain jacket, and the hydration bladder. Had an additional pocket for the smaller accessories and if you needed a little more room the hip and chest packs could be attached with Simms’s Catch and Release system. The only issue with the original, some days you wished the main compartment was just a little larger. Although you could fit a good amount into it, everything fitted into it tightly, requiring you to remove everything in the bag to reach items that may have slipped to the bottom.
The 2014 model of the Simms Headwaters ½ day pack is still lightweight and continues with most of the original features, hydration pouch, the Catch and Release Magnet system (on the front), and the breathable back panel, the main improvements are the larger main compartment and the DWR treated fabric. The larger 15 liter (915 cubic in) main compartment with stretch mesh dividers gives you a little more room and organization for all your gear, minimalizing the frustration of removing everything in order to reach items in the bottom of the bag.
The smaller compartment on the back has also been altered; they have made it larger in order to fit more accessories. They have used 420 Denier abrasion resistant fabric that’s treated with DWR for more water resistance and 630 Denier abrasion resistant fabric on the bottom for extra protection from wear. The designers also added magnetized tool ports on the shoulder straps which I found to be my favorite feature, nothing more annoying than consistently losing your hemostats or pliers because they weren’t as secure as you’d hoped or having to reach inside a pocket to get them.
The only thing I wished they continued with would be keeping the Catch and Release magnet system on the back of the bag, this was a nice feature when you were utilizing the hip or chest pack and throwing streamers, you had the extra room you needed and it was out of your way when stripping the fly. The larger secondary pocket makes up for this but it’s always nice to have the ability to add more room when needed.
All in all this is still a sweet pack, fits well, has plenty of room for your short day trips, and distributes the weight superbly, this has been my go-to pack since it came out and will be for many days to come.
I have to say I was quite intrigued when I heard that Ross Reels decided to bring back the Gunnison as part of the new Heritage Series of reels. I remember learning to fly fish with these reels as a kid on all my dads gear. Some of my greatest early fishing memories are associated with those reels. He continues to use those same reels to this day. He swears that those are the “best reels ever made” and trust me he was very quick to tell me Ross “knows what good is” when they decided to bring them back.
That’s enough reminiscing from me about the Ross Gunnison for the time being. For all those who didn’t know that these reels were coming back check out the info below! These will be available mid June 14′
REINTRODUCING THE GUNNISON:
The Ross Reels Gunnison is one of the most famous fly reels ever produced and 28 years after its debut, many still see daily service in the hands of guides, lodges, and individual fly-fishers everywhere. The Gunnison offered form, fit, function and durability combined into a package that still comes to mind whenever anyone thinks of “Ross Reels.” Having tamed both freshwater and the salt, the Gunnison is back and available once again as this year’s featured Heritage Series product.
The Ross Reels Heritage Series is about getting back to our Colorado roots – specifically those products that made us the premier fly reel manufacturer in the world. The Ross commitment to manufacturing USA made quality fly fishing products has not wavered since we began crafting fly reels over four decades ago. To honor this legacy we are reintroducing the Heritage Series, showcasing our famous products that have been and still are the favorite on-water tools of fly fishers across the country and around the world.
First in that line is the timeless Gunnison; a true workhorse reel made available to an always adventurous public, it gained its reputation for indestructibility and reliability on water ranging from the salt flats of Christmas Island to the remote wilderness rivers of Alaska. One of the first reels available with an advanced composite drag system, in 2014 Ross has taken the design one step further and re-engineered the bearing housing to improve performance; all while allowing post-1998 frames to fit on the 2014 edition. The Gunnison has once again set the standard for what a fly reel should be – smooth, powerful, lightweight and durable.
The Heritage Series Gunnison will be available in sizes G1 , G2, and G3, individually numbered from 1 to 500, 1 to 1000, and 1 to 500 respectively, and laser engraved with the Colorado state flag. Not just a collector’s piece, these are fly fishing tools, designed for years of productive service out on the water. Place your order today, and own a piece of fly fishing history.
Sometimes in life, you actually “get what you pay for!” So let’s talk hunting for a minute. Yes, I know we are right in the middle of 5wt’s and May Flies but let’s talk hunting and let’s talk Sitka Gear.
Was I skeptical about the product and the price……YEP! Did I try to convince myself that there were other hunting clothes on the market that could do what Sitka Gear claimed to do for almost half the price…..YEP! Did I end up buying Sitka Gear…YEP! Do I have any regrets…NOPE!!!
Last spring as I prepared mentally, physically and economically to go on my “Do it yourself Archery hunt for Elk in the Gunnison National Forrest of Colorado, I begged and pleaded with my lovely wife until I got the “green light” to go ahead and make the purchase. After an intense review of the product line, I narrowed down my selection to the following Sitka Gear necessities:
When I received my Sitka Gear I immediately fell in love with the feel of the fabric. “4 Way Stretch Poly/Lycra Technology” is what they called it; I called it soft and flexible and comfortable and lightweight and awesome!! The camo pattern that I opted for (no pun intended) was the Optifade Open Country. This pattern not only kept my outline concealed while glassing adjacent ridges while out in the open, it also kept me hidden in the Aspen Clusters and Dark Timber.
The fabric is forgiving and it moves with you, not against you. This is vitally important when climbing up steep mountains or straddling fallen timber. The fabric is water resistant and dries quickly. This material also repels the “hitchhikers” as I call them, you know, those burrs and little brown “do-dads” that always cling to your clothing. Those things that you spend an hour picking off yourself, only to find 78 more of them once you get home………yea, those things do not stick to Sitka Gear. There is also some type of “something” around the inner waist-band of the pants that keeps your base layer top from coming un-tucked. So when you bend over, your shirt stays in your pants and not half way up your back allowing your “plumbers crack” to be exposed.
So why am I telling you this stuff right in the middle of bug hatches and broken leaders, because now is the time to go out and get you some Sitka Gear. The prices are usually discounted this time of year. Father’s Day is approaching and maybe your Birthday is right around the corner…….who knows. Maybe you can sweet-talk that special someone in your life to go out and get you some “just because it’s the right thing to do.” I already talked my lovely wife into this last year, but I need more…………”I hope you read this Julie—you’re the best wife ever”!!!
Enjoy your spring everyone and remember to fish hard, hunt hard and be safe.
From the title, you can probably guess that this article is about fly fishing in Cuba. Cuba is an amazing place and its fly fishing is definitely one of the reasons why.
To be honest I only fished two days in Cuba. And one of those days wasn’t even a good one. Nevertheless, from what I saw, I would recommend fishing in Cuba to anyone…
A quick web search will reveal that most Cuban flats fishing are controlled by an Italian outfit named Avalon. Any monopoly has drawbacks but in this case I think it has been very healthy in preserving the fishery and the environment.
Avalon has fishing operations throughout Cuba, including Cayo Largo, a beautiful island south of the mainland with a handful of all–inclusive resorts. So when my girlfriend Deb and I booked into one of these resorts, it took about 5 minutes for me to send an email off to Avalon. I was hoping to book a day trip and chase some bonefish.
Here’s one of the drawbacks to a monopoly… “Not possible,” they replied. “We only do full weeks. Contact us closer to the date of your trip and we’ll see what we can do.”
I had previously devoured the Avalon website and really wanted to experience their fishery so it was an agonizing wait. Finally, a few weeks before we departed, I begged and pleaded with the Avalon representative and managed to book two day trips. I won’t mention the price – that’s another drawback of a monopoly!
Our very first night in Cuba was in Havana. It was actually New Year’s Eve and we saw a grand Cuban tradition – hurling a bucket of water into the street from the front door. Luckily, we saw it from a distance…
The flight from Havana to Cayo Largo was on board a big dual-prop plane that looked like it dated from the 1960’s. It was terribly noisy but it still gave us a good view of the immense flats that spread out from Cayo Largo. The landing – on a modern airstrip – was surprisingly smooth.
Cayo Largo is an idyllic Carribbean island with only a handful of resorts. A white sand beach? Scenic, rocky coastline? Palm trees? Scub pines? Starfish in pristine water? You can take your pick and with a little effort, you won’t have to share with anyone.
On our first day of fishing, we taxied to the Avalon fishing center and were met by the fishing director and three guides. Yup, our guide and two others. It was a bit like a NASCAR pit stop; we had five outfits with us, and they had them all completely rigged in about 2 minutes. Another minute passed and we were in a state-of-the art skiff, planing towards the flats. I had in my hands a fly box that the fishing director gave me; it held a dozen proven local patterns.
I have to admit, however, our first day fishing was not too remarkable. Deb is not a fan of long boat rides so we fished the closest spots to the dock – a few large flats that were fairly deep and often held permit. However, a cold front had blown through a couple days before. Unlucky for us, the temperatures were still down and the winds were still up.
I think I spotted three fish that day; most of the time the guide was directing my casts across wave-rippled water. Regardless, he was excellent, with eagle eyes and a very patient manner. By the time we pulled up to the dock, both Deb and I had landed a couple bonefish.
We spent the next couple days exploring the island and sampling the excellent mojitos at the resort. When the cold front had thoroughly passed – and the winds lay down – I showed up for a second day of fishing. Deb had elected to spend the day at the resort.
I was paired with a different guide – although his patient, professional demeanor was very much the same as the first. Our plan, he said, would be to fish along a string of small cays that stretched outward from one end of Cayo Largo.
The first spot we pulled up to held an immense school of bonefish. They circled away from us and then towards us. I had absolutely no problem spotting them. It was about as easy as it gets in flats fishing – cast your fly about ten feet in front of the wriggling, cruising mass. Wait ‘til it gets close… A couple strips… Watch five or six fish peel after your fly… Fish on!
With my reel buzzing, the guide would pole like crazy away from the school. We’d land the fish. And then repeat. These were solid 4 pounders. Every one of them went well into the backing. I’d wish I could say that after five fish I was ready for more of a challenge but to be honest – it my personal bonefish paradise. Lots of good-sized, eager, easy-to-see fish!
Nevertheless, the guide didn’t want to educate too many fish and he suggested we push on. And so it went for the rest of the day – from one tiny little cay with a gorgeous flat to the next… It was perhaps the most perfect day of bonefishing I’ve ever experienced. There were no more huge schools, but plenty of singles and doubles and small groups. The water was gin clear, perfectly calm, and never more than knee deep. The bottom was a magical white sand that didn’t hide fish very well. I landed 10 or 11 bonefish that day with a couple going 5 or 6 pounds. I could have landed more but the guide talked me into so many other things…
Like checking out a tiny cut through some mangroves for tarpon. They were in there – four or five good-sized juveniles! They finned lazily, wickedly obvious in the clear water. And just kept on finning lazily as my fly swam past. After a few casts, they melted back into the mangroves.
I also chugged a popper across a couple deep channels for barracuda. One showed himself but turned away. In disdain? I really think that barracuda are way smarter than most anglers think.
The guide even had me tossing a jig on a spinning rod into a couple more channels. He wanted me to sample some of the snapper fishing. Success! A four or five pound mutton snapper grabbed the jig and pulled like only snapper can.
Actually, that mutton snapper was quite an inspiration. Because shortly thereafter, we were about a mile offshore, and my tarpon rod was rigged with a sinking line. I was working a Clouser down among the patch reefs. To no avail, unfortunately. But just the anticipation of a big snapper on a fly rod made it worthwhile.
Before we headed back in, we checked out a couple deeper flats for permit. Truth be known, Cayo Largo actually has quite a reputation for permit. Maybe it’s a good thing that none showed themselves that day; I was riding a bit of an adrenaline high after all the action and a permit might have pushed me over the edge.
Back at the dock, in the comfort of the Avalon fishing center’s couch, I had a couple beers and a slice of pizza and gradually came down. If you ever decide to come to Cuba, bring a lot of gear. It seems the possibilities are endless…
* * * * * * * *
Here are a few additional notes if you every make it to Cuba…
It might be a tad inflexible, but Avalon runs a first class operation. They rotate anglers through well-defined zones to spread out the pressure. Both guides and boats are top notch.
A day or two in Havana is mandatory! Catch a jazz club, stroll the Malecon, admire the architecture, get a cab ride from a ’55 Chevy (or maybe a bicycle) – it’s gritty and grand at the same time.
The countryside near Vinales – about an hour from Havana – is incredibly exotic. Lush green farms with red soil are butted up against huge domes of vegetation and limestone.
Did I mention the great fishing?
**Editors Note: Being that Dale hails from Canada, It is very easy for him to be able to travel to Cuba for excellent adventures like this one. On the other hand us Americans are not so lucky…